Monday, 3 October 2011

Goya's Black Paintings

The most celebrated pictures of Goya's last years are the series of 14 so-called "Black Paintings" completed on the walls of a country house just outside Madrid that he purchased in 1819. Aged 74 when he began this group, he had already been dangerously ill in 1819, and these works may be in part a result of that illness, but the overall meaning of this series of dark paintings has never been satisfactorily explained. 

All the images were painted directly onto the farmhouse walls and are all damaged in some way or another. Fortunately, after Goya's death the farmhouse owner recognised the worth of the paintings and in 1878 they were transferred to canvas supports. Goya painted these works very rapidly, using broad strokes applied with large brushes, palette knife and possibly sponges. He may have regarded them as a technical experiment due to the "looseness" of the imagery. They are probably best considered as dark fantasies, despite several elements being based upon earlier images. 

Over the next two weeks I'll run these 14 works in total instead of my usual practice of choosing one artist per week... I've been mixing the periods up for the last month or so with works by Bronzino, Dali, Weston etc. 

The first cab of the Goya rank is Atropos or "The Fates" (1820-1823)

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